Actions

Work Header

Humansplaining

Chapter Text

Chapter 1, Ministry Malcontent

Spring, 1993

A toad-shaped witch in a pink suit waddled to the front of the meeting room and smiled primly at the assembled Aurors. Then she flicked her short, pale wand at the wall.  Glowing golden letters appeared, with the Ministry of Magic logo, the name Dolores Umbridge, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister of Magic, and the title of today’s presentation, The Protection Against Werewolves Act. She pointed her wand at her throat and said “ Sonorous ,” making her voice louder, but unfortunately no less squeaky. “I am honored,” she began, “to be in the presence of so many brave heroes, defenders of the wizarding community, indeed, defenders of all of humankind.”

“Excuse me,” interrupted the gruff voice of Mad-Eye Moody. “You’re in the wrong department. This is the Auror Department, but your slide says Werewolves. You want the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures instead.” He wrenched his mutilated face into a smile and looked proudly around the room at his fellow Aurors. “Shortest meeting ever, eh? Now let’s get back to work. I’ll show you out, Madam Undersecretary. Don’t feel bad, it’s easy to get lost in this building.”

“Hem, hem,” Umbridge cleared her throat. “I am in the right department, mister...?”

“Moody,” said Mad-Eye. “Alastor Moody.”

“You!” she squeaked sternly. “Your reputation precedes you.”

Mad-Eye smiled even more broadly.

“Thank you for your concern,” she continued, “but I am in the right department. If you pay attention to my presentation, everything should become clear. If you are still confused afterwards, there will be a question and answer period. If you are still confused after that, I’m afraid I can’t help you, and I recommend you look into retirement, which I have heard you are overdue for. Now then.” She continued her presentation. “Thanks to you, our safety is assured, in our homes, in our businesses, and of course in our schools, protecting the most precious, cherished members of our community, our children.” As she spoke, rather slowly, she kept flicking her wand at the wall, illustrating each phrase with a stock photo of a grand home, Diagon Alley on a bustling shopping day, and a classroom full of children, seated in a neat grid of desks, all smiling, all with right hand raised. “You are ever vigilant against those who would do us harm, be they dark wizards,” (this was illustrated by that famous photo of Sirius Black, wand clenched in his fist, laughing maniacally in a muggle street strewn with rubble and corpses) “or—“

“Anyone else want donuts?” interrupted Mad-Eye Moody.

Tonks suppressed her laughter, then changed her mind and let it out. “Yeah, I could go for a jelly-filled.”

“Hem, hem,” Umbridge cleared her throat daintily, glaring at Mad-Eye, and sparing a smaller glare for Tonks. “I’m sure you didn’t mean to interrupt my presentation. The Ministry of Magic’s new law, the Protection Against Werewolves Act, is of utmost importance. I would think that Aurors would be interested in learning the details, considering that you are the ones who will be enforcing it.”

“So give us the details already,” grumbled Mad-Eye. “I’m old. I’m not going to waste the little time I have left sitting through boring presentations.”

“I’m sure you didn’t intend to speak disrespectfully to a Ministry official,” smiled Umbridge.

“You’re sure?” asked Mad-Eye. “Not very observant, are you? I think a large variety pack of donuts will be enough to keep us awake through this Ministry nonsense, right? My treat.” He got some nods of assent from the assembled Aurors, although many pointedly ignored his gaze. He then addressed Tonks directly, although loudly enough for everyone to hear. “Fill me in if she ever says anything of importance. I’ll be right back.” Tonks nodded, smiling, and Mad-Eye left, his wooden leg clomping loudly on the floor. He must have taken his usual silencing spells off it.

Tonks got parchment, quill and ink ready, and looked at Umbridge expectantly. She wished that Mad-Eye had sent her out for donuts rather than leave her here to endure this presentation, but she would do as her mentor had ordered and earn her donut.

The slide on the wall behind Umbridge looked like an ad for dark magic. Tall and elegant, Sirius Black looked aristocratically handsome, even under the splatters of blood. His long black hair rippled in the breeze as he laughed. He’d been twenty-one when that picture was taken. Tonks wasn’t quite twenty-one yet, but she’d figured the important stuff out already. It’s so simple! she futilely told the young wizard in the photo. Just choose good, not evil. How could you have screwed up something so obvious?

Umbridge looked at her notes. “Hem, hem. You are ever-vigilant against against those who would do us harm, be they dark wizards, or half-breeds,” (She finally replaced the photo of Sirius with a drawing of a creature that was goblin-like, but clutching a wand, and wearing wizard-style robes and an evil grin), “or various inhuman beings masquerading as true humans for nefarious purposes.” (This was illustrated by an artistic interpretation of a transforming werewolf, as real photos of this, Tonks supposed, must be rare.) Umbridge fumbled with her wand until it emitted a narrow beam of light. This light briefly highlighted the slobber dripping from the fangs of the werewolf in the drawing, then the drawing was replaced by a new slide full of text. “My Protection Against Werewolves Act greatly expands your powers to defend us against one of these dark forces.”

Expands our powers, mulled Tonks. She made a note of that to discuss with Mad-Eye later, writing, “expands our powers=expands our workload=/=expands our pay.”

Umbridge smiled to see her taking notes. Tonks realized with horror that her hair, in its usual short pink spikes, was almost the same color as Umbridge’s suit. She quickly fixed that, turning her hair green from roots to ends. Teachers hadn’t liked her doing that in school, saying it distracted her classmates.

“Hem, hem,” said Umbridge, her smile at Tonks turning into a glare.

Tonks turned her hair purple with yellow stripes.

Umbridge turned away from her and continued her speech. “Werewolves have long been under the jurisdiction of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. However, that department has proven inadequate to the task. I believe that Aurors will do a much better job at managing beings of near-human intelligence, particularly those that are in our midst, impersonating humans. The Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures lacks the power to investigate beings that have infiltrated human society, and appear to be human to the casual observer. Aurors, already in the business of investigating humans, will do a much better job of finding out which of their suspects are not human at all. Thanks to The Protection Against Werewolves Act, no longer must you assume that suspects are human simply because they look human. Now you may actively test the species of any suspect with scanning spells, and should they fail the test, transfer the case to the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. Also—“

Tonks looked around the room, but it seemed that no one else was going to say it, so she had to. “We can already do that,” she said.

“Hem, hem,” said the pink-clad toad.

At this point, Mad-Eye came back and clomped all around the room, offering the donuts to everyone. Tonks selected one oozing red jelly. “Thanks. Aren’t you going to have one?”

“No, I’m not hungry,” said Mad-Eye. He offered the box to Umbridge. “They should be safe, I already scanned them for poisons,” he said, but she declined. Mad-Eye took his seat besides Tonks again.

“All you missed is that we now can scan suspects to check that they’re human, just like we could already do,” whispered Tonks.

Mad-Eye snorted through his mutilated nose, which Tonks recognized as the sound of his laughter. “Oh, one of those laws,” he scoffed. “The Ministry is trying to make a show of doing something without actually doing anything.”

“Madam Undersecretary,” said another voice. Tonks looked askance at Paul, her handsome young classmate. “I for one am glad that the Ministry is so supportive of our work, and I’d like to hear the rest of the presentation.” There were some nods and murmurs of agreement at this.

Ass-kisser. Tonks took a ferocious bite of her donut, which squirted red jelly onto her uniform. “ Scourgify ,” she said quietly, with a twitch of her wand, but it didn’t do much good. She just wanted this stupid presentation to be over.

The red goo suddenly disappeared, and she looked thankfully at Mad-Eye, who nodded to acknowledge her thanks, and put his wand away.

Umbridge smiled at Paul. “Thank you very much, mister...”

“Proudfoot, Paul Proudfoot,” he said. “I’ve nearly completed my Auror training, and I’m quite looking forward to enforcing this new law.”

“Thank you very much, Mr. Proudfoot.“ She turned to Tonks, smiling. “And what is your name, dear?”

“Tonks,” said Tonks.

“I meant your full name, dear.”

Tonks refused to let her feelings reach her face. “Nymphadora Tonks,” she said.

“What a charming name!” simpered Umbridge. “I don’t recognize your surname, though. Muggle-born, are you? You seem unfamiliar with our ways.”

“My father’s muggle-born,” explained Tonks. Should she pull out the big guns? Yeah, why not. “My mother was born to the noble and most ancient house of Black.” With difficulty, she refrained from accompanying the phrase with her usual eye roll. There was no need to add details like her mother’s name being burned off the family tapestry for the sin of marrying a muggle-born wizard. She turned her hair black to emphasise her point and took another bite of her donut.

It felt like cheating, but the effect on Umbridge was very gratifying. Tonks had knocked that condescending smirk right off her face. Umbridge didn’t seem to notice that the narrow beam of light from her wand, illuminating the word Protection on the slide, was glowing brighter and brighter. After the shock had worn off, Umbridge fixed her face in a fawning expression that looked even worse on her than it had looked on Paul. “A very powerful magical family,” she said admiringly. “And heroes to our country.”

Was she referring to the ones in prison? She’d just shown a slide of one of Tonks’s infamous, murderous cousins. Tonks gave Umbridge a blank stare.

“I am honored to meet you,” simpered Umbridge. “And now, if I may, I will continue my presentation?”

She seemed to be asking permission, so Tonks granted it with a nod. Too late, she wondered if she should have withheld her permission.

Umbridge turned to look at her slide on the wall. The word Protection was on fire, or at least the wall supporting it was. She dropped her wand, and the narrow, painfully bright beam of light it had been emitting turned off. Umbridge’s panicked shrieks, pitched even higher than her usual speaking voice, were unfortunately amplified just as her speech had been.

Tonks drew her wand, surprised that Mad-Eye hadn’t done so already, but he used his quick reflexes only to restrain her wand hand. His hand on hers was scarred, rough and massive, bristling with grey hairs. “Now this is what I call an interesting presentation,” he whispered.

Kingsley hadn’t said anything up to this point, nor had he accepted a donut from Mad-Eye. Now he got up, neatly stepped around the panicking pink toad, extinguished the fire, repaired the wall, picked up Umbridge’s wand, handed it to her, and sat down again. He put his wand away and took up his quill again, poised over his parchment to take notes.

Umbridge, after recovering her composure, breathlessly said “Thank you, mister?”

“Shacklebolt, Madam Undersecretary. Kingsley Shacklebolt. There’s no need to thank me, I’m just doing my job,” he said in his soothingly deep voice.

“Shacklebolt... Pureblood?”

Kingsley nodded.

Umbridge beamed. “I could tell. You’re a credit to the force, Shacklebolt.”

“I’m simply doing my duty to my country, Madam Undersecretary.”

“I’m a pureblood too,” interrupted Mad-Eye.

“As I was saying,” squeaked Umbridge furiously, pointing her wand at the slide, “The Protection Against Werewolves Act greatly expands your powers to protect us. It is true,” Umbridge admitted graciously to Tonks, “that Aurors already had the authority to check the species of individuals suspected of other crimes. My new act expands this power, so you may now check the species of anyone at all, regardless of whether they are suspected of a crime besides human-impersonation or not. No warrant will be required.”

Kingsley jotted down a note.

“The public will also help you do your jobs as you help them stay safe,” Umbridge continued.  “Today’s edition of the Daily Prophet features an article requesting that the safety-minded public submit anonymous tips to the Auror Department, whenever they have the slightest suspicion that one of their acquaintance may be merely pretending to be human. The public is asked to be on the alert for anyone exhibiting unusual behavior around the full moon.”

Tonks was not a seer, but it didn’t take a seer to see how this would go. Anyone with a grudge would soon be reporting their ex-boyfriend, lady who insulted their cooking, and guy who sold them that used broom. They would all suddenly be werewolves, and the Aurors would have to follow each and every one of these leads, as if they didn’t have real criminals to track down.

“No longer will you have to wait until these lurking false humans ambush true humans before you act,” continued Umbridge. “You may now preemptively remove them from society, even before they strike! Just imagine how much safer we’ll be! Consider, for example, the law that only humans may use wands. Other creatures have their own powers. If werewolves were allowed wands as well, you can imagine the terrible power imbalance that would result. Removing wands from the hands of inhuman beings must be among our highest priorities.”

Kingsley took more notes.

“In addition to correcting old mistakes,” continued Umbridge, “The Protection Against Werewolves Act also features new advances in safety!”

Bloody Helga, it gets worse.

“Humans who endanger the rest of society by knowingly sheltering, employing, or otherwise supporting werewolves where they may pose a danger to others will now be charged with a crime. Of course, the Ministry is not heartless. It will still be legal to employ or house registered werewolves, provided that the public is notified. Any business owner who wishes to employ a registered werewolf may do so, and it is also still legal to provide housing to registered werewolves. The employer or landlord must simply warn potential customers and neighbors of the hazard by posting a large sign at the place of business or residence. Also, the employer or landlord must deliver written notification of the danger to all humans who reside or work within a one-mile radius of the werewolf. These humans may then formally grant permission for the registered werewolf to live or work near them by filling out form MOMDOWS1993f27b at the Werewolf Services office.”

Umbridge flicked a text-dense slide onto the wall. “The Protection Against Werewolves act also features many improvements to the Werewolf Registry. Registration number tattoos are now larger and more prominently placed, curfews are earlier, etc, but these specifics are of more concern to the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, so I won’t bore you with details.” She flicked the text-heavy slide away, thank goodness.

The next slide was about feral werewolves. It was decorated with the clip art of the slavering werewolf again. “The Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures has traditionally cooperated with the Auror Department for help with programs aimed at reducing the feral werewolf population. These programs will now be run by the Auror Department, and funding  for these programs has now increased as you can see in this table. Feral werewolves which are captured alive, and not deemed dangerous enough to require euthanasia, will still be supplied to the Werewolf Research Institute, which remains under the direction of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.”

Umbridge put up a slide composed of three images, the clip art werewolf on the left, slavering towards the smiling stock photo children on the right. Separating the two was a cartoonish image of an Auror, wand pointed at the werewolf. “In conclusion, you, the brave men and women of the Auror Department, now have expanded powers to protect us from the inhuman monsters that have infiltrated our society. I look forward to a new era of increased safety and prosperity for all true humans. Any questions?”

Kingsley raised his hand and was called on immediately.  His deep, quiet voice said, “Human-impersonation has been on the books as a crime for centuries, but it hasn’t been enforced in living memory. Does the Ministry expect us to enforce this now?”

Tonks underlined “expands our workload” on her parchment. Mad-Eye snorted.

Umbridge nodded sympathetically. “Yes, and I want all of you to know that the Ministry does not blame anyone here for this failure to enforce the law. Previous administrations have placed many obstacles in your way, requiring such unnecessary paperwork as probable cause, evidence, and warrants before you are allowed to do your jobs. My new law removes these obstacles, allowing you to cast detection spells on anyone you encounter, in public, in places of business, or in their homes, on any suspicion whatsoever!” She smiled proudly as some in the audience, led by Paul, burst into applause at this announcement.

Kinglsey nodded to acknowledge this answer. Then he raised his hand again and was called on again. “The Werewolf Registry is currently virtually unused,” he said. “Werewolves have no motivation to register, and the new registry requirements seem even less likely to attract registrants. Why would any werewolves register?”

Umbridge went back a few slides to the one about increased funding for feral werewolf population reduction. “Unregistered, also called feral, werewolves, will no longer be permitted to roam free.”

“The word feral used to refer to those werewolves who relinquish their claim to humanity, allowing their wolfish side to rule them all the time, not just during the full moon,” said Kingsley. “They band together in packs and live as wolves, not humans. You seem to be using that word a different way.”

“Werewolves who don’t obey our laws have relinquished their claim to humanity,” said Umbridge. “It’s the same thing.”

Kingsley nodded to acknowledge this answer as well and took more notes.

Mad-Eye raised his hand. Umbridge searched the room for anyone else she could call on, but found no one. She grudgingly nodded to him.

“Any chance the Ministry will give us back the authority to use the three unforgivable curses? Those were damn useful in the war. I’m sure they’d be useful against suspected werewolves too.”

“That is an excellent question, Mr. Moody,” said Umbridge, surprised. “I’m afraid the answer is no at this point, although I will take it under advisement.”

“Try to get around to it before I retire, will you?”

With that, the presentation was over, and the pink toad finally went away.

“Come back to my office for a minute before we go on patrol,” said Mad-Eye. Tonks had to admit that Mad-Eye, on his wooden leg, probably moved through the grid of cubicles more gracefully than she did. While other Aurors worked out of cubicles, Mad-Eye had walled his cubicle in to form a cramped and private office. There hadn’t been a rule against doing this until Mad-Eye had done it. No one had been willing to tell him he had to disassemble the fortress he’d built, so it stayed.

He unlocked his office with his wand and they entered and sat on the chipped wooden chairs. Moody’s office was slightly dingy, as he didn’t trust the custodial staff to come in and clean it.

Mad-Eye waved the door closed with his wand, then cast a few spells on it. “So,” he said. “The Ministry’s just grabbed a lot more power for itself. Now we have this ridiculous excuse to invade anyone’s privacy. Werewolves are so evil, we get to look for them everywhere, and subject anyone to invasive tests.”

“Happy?” asked Tonks.

Mad-Eye scowled. “If I was the only one with these new powers? Yeah, probably. But I know how our fellow Aurors will use them.” While his brown eye remained fixed on her, his electric blue eye swiveled to face the door, from which an oddly muffled banging noise came a moment later.

Mad-Eye unlocked and opened it with his wand, and Kingsley Shacklebolt charged in, bringing with him a sense of menace. He made quite an imposing sight, with his Auror’s uniform fitting perfectly over his broad shoulders. “Mad-Eye,” he rumbled. “You’re an embarrassment to the force. I don’t know why we even allow you to mentor a trainee. I can see you’re corrupting her already.” He slammed the door behind him. As he continued speaking, “The Senior Undersecretary to the Minister of Magic deserves our respect!” he gave a significant glance at the door, then raised an eyebrow at Mad-Eye.

“Of course I put silencing spells up, Kingsley!” exclaimed Mad-Eye. “You know me. Oh, and I saved you a donut.”

“Thanks,” said Kingsley, his deep voice now in a much friendlier tone. “Cinnamon?”

“Of course,” said Mad-Eye, handing it over.

“Then consider yourself reprimanded,” said Kingsley, sitting on the edge of Mad-Eye’s desk and nibbling the donut. “Umbridge told Scrimgeour that I specifically should be the one to reprimand you, and teach you the proper way for a pureblood to behave.” The three of them had a good laugh over that. “So we can use this time to discuss this new legislation. This is serious. We need to tell Dumbledore ASAP. Umbridge might as well have named this the Werewolf Pack Reinforcement Act. She’s making it harder for werewolves to live in wizarding society, so they’re inevitably going to join the feral packs, where they’re much more of a danger to us.”

Mad-Eye grunted. “Tonks, take notes. Let’s try to fit the salient points in a patronus message, that’ll be fastest.”

The three of them looked at Umbridge’s handouts and their notes and worked out the most alarming parts of the legislation. “Now we’re supposed to enforce that old Impersonating a Human law,” said Kingsley. “And we’re also supposed to be really cracking down on wand use by half-breeds and inhuman beings. So if they try to live as normal witches and wizards, we arrest them for that, or if they admit they’re not human, we arrest them for using wands, which only humans are allowed.” Kingsley shook his head. “She just created a whole new class of criminals. And why should they obey any of our other laws when they’re already breaking this one just by trying to live normal lives?”

“I don’t think I can fit this in a patronus message,” said Tonks.

“Yeah,” agreed Mad-Eye. “Just tell Dumbledore the Protection Against Werewolves Act is very bad news, and the bits about strengthening Auror powers and werewolf packs in particular. We’ll discuss it in detail later.”

Kingsley and Mad-Eye were both looking at the young trainee expectantly. Tonks drew her wand, thought of the wall catching fire, chaos disrupting order, and said “ Expecto Patronum !” Her patronus appeared, a glowing silver jackrabbit, comically awkward with its long legs and floppy ears. It always made her smile to look at it. She gave it the message to Dumbledore and sent it bouncing on its way, ears flapping, as it disappeared into whatever magical dimension it occupied between sender and receiver. Mad-Eye’s office looked extra dark and dingy without its brilliant silver light.

“Can your patronus change appearance, like you?” asked Mad-Eye.

“Huh. I haven’t tried,” said Tonks. “I don’t think so, but I don’t really know.”

“It would be right useful to impersonate someone else’s patronus,” said Mad-Eye. “Send a false message, lead someone into a trap.  Everyone thinks they can’t be tampered with. It would be perfect.”

“You think like a dark wizard,” said Tonks.

Mad-Eye smiled at the compliment.

Tonks’s patronus reappeared in less than a minute, and said “Message received, thank you,” in Dumbledore’s concerned voice before fading.

“Now let’s get to work. And remember—“

“Constant vigilance!” said Tonks. “I know, Mad-Eye.”

“Scrimgeour gave us some leads to investigate today,” said Kingsley, taking a sheaf of parchment out of his pocket. “He wants me to go with you two and keep you in line.”

Tonks smiled, but Mad-Eye looked a bit miffed.

“Enforce the law, respect the public, no unforgivable curses, and try not to give the Obliviators too much work, all right?” added Kingsley.

“I didn’t send all those Death Eaters to Azkaban by being a goodie two-shoes,” grumbled Mad-Eye.

“This isn’t wartime, Mad-Eye,” said Kingsley. “No Death Eaters today. Just,” he looked at the paperwork and sighed. “An awful lot of people accused of being werewolves. Well, let’s get this over with.”

They apparated to the street outside the first address on the list, a coffee shop in Diagon Alley. The patrons reacted to their arrival with a variety of interested looks and guilty starts.

The manager came out to greet them personally. “What can I get for you three? No need for you to wait in line, I’m sure you—“

“We’re here on business,” said Mad-Eye. He looked at his parchment. “We need to speak to Ismelda Cloop.”

She was running to them already. “Yes, that’s me, I flooed the Auror office to report a werewolf. John, our dishwasher—“

“John?” interrupted the manager. “You reported John as a werewolf? He’s a damn good dishwasher.”

“When I asked him if he would swap shifts with me so I could go to the Celestina Warbeck concert, he absolutely refused, and I couldn’t get anyone to fill in for me so I had to miss it, and I remember when I got out of work that night it was a full moon—“

“So he’s either a werewolf or a Celestina Warbeck fan who didn’t want to miss the concert either,” said Mad-Eye.

“Criminal either way,” quietly commented Tonks, who was not a fan of sappy love songs.

“A scan should settle this quickly,” said Kingsley. He drew his wand. “Where is he?”

“I’ll show you,” said Ms. Cloop, hurrying to the back.

“Wait,” said Mad-Eye. “Does this place have a back door?”

“Yes,” said the manager. “It opens to the alley in back.”

“We have to guard all the escape routes before we attack,” said Mad-Eye. “Kingsley, alley.” Kingsley looked at Mad-Eye for a moment, then left the coffee shop to go around the back.

“Attack?” repeated the manager.

“And clear out all these bystanders,” continued Mad-Eye, gesturing at the customers crowding around with interest. “Don’t want anyone getting hit by a stray spell or flying rubble.”

“Now wait just a minute here,” sputtered the manager.

“Do it,” barked Mad-Eye. “I always have to do extra paperwork when a bystander gets hurt, and I hate paperwork.”

The manager and Ms. Cloop grudgingly kicked out all their customers.

Mad-Eye took his lookie-talkie out of his pocket, flipped it open, and said “Kingsley Shacklebolt.”

The mirror quickly changed to reflect, not Mad-Eye’s pale, scarred face, but Kingsley’s dark, smooth one. “I’m in position,” he said.

Mad-Eye said “Be ready” and put the lookie-talkie away.

Mad-Eye drew his wand and gave a significant look to Tonks, who drew hers as well as they approached the door to the kitchen. Mad-Eye had restored his usual silencing spells on his wooden leg, and his blue eye whirled in all directions while his brown eye stared fixedly at the door to the back room. Tonks couldn’t help but think that his cautious, ambush-ready walk was completely out-of-place in a coffee shop.

Mad-Eye’s whirling blue eye suddenly stopped, fixed on the door to the kitchen. He shouted “ Reducto ” while waving his wand at the door, blasting it into splinters, and charged through the gaping hole.

“What are you doing?” shouted the manager, but Mad-Eye was gone, followed by Tonks. Mad-Eye continued his charge out the back door, which was open. Tonks hung back to scan the kitchen, but it was empty of beings. Then Tonks followed her mentor through the back door into the alley behind the coffee shop. She immediately tripped over Kingsley’s body.

Stupefy !” shouted Mad-Eye, shooting a bolt of red light down the alley, but Tonks heard the loud crack of disapparition an instant before she heard Mad-Eye’s spell expend its energy by cracking a brick wall.

“Fast bugger,” grumbled Mad-Eye, panting. “I’d have got him if we were still allowed to use the Unforgivables. I’m quicker with those.”

Kingsley was still breathing. Blood was slowly spreading on the pavement below his bald head.

Tonks acted fast. A diagnostic scan revealed a scrape and a bump on Kingsley’s head that wouldn’t account for his unconscious state, but the stunner that had hit his chest explained that. She fixed his head injury with some healing spells and a few drops of dittany before waking him to his headache with a Rennervate . He opened his dark eyes and let out a quiet and very deep groan.

“Did I heal you all right?” asked Tonks.

“You did good work,” said Kingsley. “Unlike me.”

Now that the immediate emergency was handled, Tonks pulled her lookie-talkie out of her pocket.

Kingsley grabbed her pale wrist with his dark hand before she could open her lookie-talkie. “Don’t you dare embarrass me by reporting an Auror down. I’m fine.”

“But—“

“Mad-Eye, you don’t want to do the paperwork for an Auror down, do you?” Kingsley called down the alley.

Mad-Eye was clomping back up the alley. “We’ve got a lot to do today, and extra paperwork and a trip to St. Mungo’s would take up a lot of time.”

“Exactly,” said Kingsley, getting up and brushing off his uniform. “This didn’t happen.”

“But, assaulting an Auror...” Tonks trailed off helplessly.

“Don’t make him obliviate you, Tonks,” said Mad-Eye. “You know how good Kingsley is at memory modification. If he wants to avoid embarrassment by pretending he didn’t make a rookie mistake and get himself stunned by a dishwasher, we’ll let him do that. He’ll owe us a favor of course.”

“Of course,” agreed Kingsley.

“What happened?” asked Tonks.

“I must have blinked,” said Kingsley. “I wasn’t taking this seriously. The door suddenly opened, I saw a red stunner spell heading for me, and then Tonks woke me up.”

“Well, no wonder that dishwasher ran out of here in a panic, after Mad-Eye blew up the door,” said Tonks.

“You what?” said Kingsley disapprovingly to Mad-Eye.

“You didn’t hear the explosion?” asked Tonks.

Kingsley shook his head, then said “Ow” and stopped.

“I blasted the door down after I saw the back door open,” explained Mad-Eye. “That door I blasted was pretty thin. I could see right through it. I could see our suspect was making a run for it.” He spun his blue eye for emphasis. Show off. “Blasting it was faster than opening it. I was almost fast enough. He disapparated as soon as he was clear of the anti-apparition wards on this business.”

“Did you two get a good look at him?” asked Kingsley.

“First through a closed door, then as a speeding blur,” said Mad-Eye. “No, not really.”

“I didn’t catch a glimpse,” admitted Tonks.

A door to a neighboring business opened and a curious head poked out, a woman of about thirty. Tonks held back her impulse to scold her for sticking her head into potential trouble, and smiled at her instead. “Hello,” she said, walking over. “Sorry about the noise. It’s over now, though. Let me fix your wall. Reparo ,” she said, fixing the brick wall Mad-Eye’s spell had cracked.

“What happened?” asked the woman

“Do you know John, who works at that coffee shop right there?”

The woman shook her head.

“I thought you might have seen him taking out the trash back here or something. He’s the dishwasher.”

“Oh! Him. New guy. I’ve seen him. He didn’t tell me his name. Is he all right?”

“What do you know about him?”

“Nothing, really. I tried to make conversation, saying we got some cute new kneazle kittens in, (this is a pet shop), and would he like to see them, but he said no thank you. He’s nice and polite. Is he all right?”

Tonks sighed. This was a dead end. “I don’t suppose you’d know where he just apparated to?”

The woman shook her head.

“Well, if you can think of any clue where he might be, please floo-call the Auror office. Thank you for your time.” Tonks headed back to see if her fellow Aurors were finding any better leads.

Mad-Eye and Kingsley were arguing.

“You don’t need to blast through doors just to catch a dishwasher!” Kingsley was saying. “We’re not battling Death Eaters anymore.”

“We’re hunting criminals, and werewolves—“

“And that dishwasher is innocent until proven guilty,” said Kingsley.

“Then why did he run? Why did he stun you?”

“Because you blasted the bloody door down. You didn’t even announce that we’re Aurors. Anyone would panic in that situation. You’re not the only person who’s been paranoid since the war.”

“But he opened the back door just before I—“

“We have some cleanup to do inside,” Tonks pointed out.

“She’s right,” said Kingsley. “Come on, Mad-Eye. Let’s see if that wand of yours is any good at peaceful spells, unless you’d rather fill out the paperwork to call a Ministry cleanup crew.”

Whatever Mad-Eye might have grumbled in response to this was drowned out by the sounds of the manager and Ms. Cloop yelling at each other. “You can’t fire me,” Cloop was saying. “It’s illegal to hire a werewolf, and I’ll report you to the Aurors—“

“I hate to interrupt,” said Mad-Eye, who loved to interrupt, “but blackmail is also illegal. And worse, you’re doing it badly. Shouting your intent to blackmail in front of three Aurors is very sloppy, and also, you have no evidence. The suspect escaped.”

Tonks and Kingsley got to work repairing the blasted door and doorframe, and the various coffee makers, mugs, plates, and furnishings that had had been damaged by flying rubble. Of course, the coffee itself was unrecoverable, spilled from the shattered carafes, and the baked goods, shredded and contaminated with shards of glass from the shattered display cases, were beyond salvage, so they vanished those.

Tonks had lots of experience with repair spells, and was pretty good at them. It was an advantage of being a klutz.

Mad-Eye also had lots of experience with repair spells, which was an advantage of being a paranoid veteran who shot first and asked questions later, if at all. He took over cleanup duties as Kingsley tried to interview Ms. Cloop and her boss about the suspect. The manager didn’t know anything about his employee. He’d just showed up last month, without references, volunteering to prove himself by working for free for a day. He’d proved himself a hard worker and got hired, for cheap. Ms. Cloop, surprisingly, didn’t know anything about him either. He was a nondescript middle-aged white guy.

“I need you both to think carefully. Can you remember anything else about him?” asked Kingsley, his dark eyes boring into both of them in turn.

No they couldn’t. Kingsley sighed. As he was no longer casting repair spells, he put his wand away to free his hands for parchment and quill to write down the little they’d told him.

The other two Aurors finished their cleanup. “Good as new,” said Mad-Eye proudly, looking around with both eyes, in different directions of course. Then he turned his brown eye on Ms. Cloop, although his blue eye still whirled in all directions disconcertingly. “Thank you very much for bringing this suspected werewolf to our attention, Ms. Cloop. I’m sorry we couldn’t apprehend him this time. If you ever see him again, please contact the Auror department immediately. I’m sure we’ll be able to bring him down with a powerful-enough assault force.” He twisted his mutilated face into a grin. “Have a nice day.”

Mad-Eye led the two other Aurors out of the coffee shop. “There!” he said proudly. “Can’t get any more polite than that, right?”

Tonks and Kingsley couldn’t suppress their laughter anymore. “I guess you can’t,” admitted Kingsley.

They jotted down their notes from the assignment, and headed to the next. Neither Kingsley nor anyone else got shot with any more stunning spells, although there were some close calls when someone made a fast move in Mad-Eye’s presence. Tonks got some more practice with her repair spells. They didn’t catch any werewolves.

They broke for a lunch of fish and chips, which Mad-Eye permitted them to eat only after he’d thoroughly scanned them for poisons. “Middle-aged white guy,” complained Mad-Eye. “That’s no clue at all. Of course, if she’d said middle-aged black guy—“

Kingsley suddenly drew his lookie-talkie from his pocket and opened it. “Yes?”

“I gave you a long list of leads to investigate today,” said Scrimgeour’s voice, “but this will make it easier for you. You can cross off a bunch of those leads.” Kingsley got out his paperwork and crossed off several leads as Scrimgeour read them out.

“Have you assigned those leads to other Aurors?” asked Kingsley.

“No,” said Scrimgeour. “Our contacts floo-called back and said they were mistaken about their suspected werewolves. They’re now certain that they’re human, and don’t want us to waste our time investigating them.  Anyway, good job impressing the public with how seriously we’re taking this. If we get any more of these cases, I’ll be sure to assign them to you three.”

“Thank you,” said Kingsley. He closed his lookie-talkie. “You planned this,” he said to Mad-Eye.

Suddenly a glowing silver phoenix appeared at their table, and addressed Tonks in Dumbledore’s voice. “I have a small favor to ask you. May I bring a friend to meet you at your flat at seven o’clock this evening?”

“Yes!” said Tonks, very excited. Mad-Eye had only just recommended her to Dumbledore as a new member of the second incarnation of the Order of the Phoenix, and she was eager for some assignments. The silver phoenix vanished to convey her reply to Dumbledore.

Tonks snarfed down the last of her chips and lemonade, then grabbed the parchment Kingsley had left on the table. “We can get this done by seven, no problem. Let’s get to work.”